Friday, July 12, 2019

Billy Sherwood Makes The Citizen's Ears Happy

Billy Sherwood is now an entrusted member of the prog rock community. His stints with both Yes and Asia have solidified his credentials as a top tier player. His singing is a cross between the late Chris Squire and Peter Gabriel. His voice is naturally in a place that sounds as if a wizard is dictating the lyrics from a castle dungeon. Sherwood is certainly a guy who keeps busy. He's been a part of World Trade, Yoso, Lodgic and Circa. All of which are progressive rock vehicles for a music mind that apparently never sleeps. Sherwood's 2nd Citizen themed album called The Next Life is a complicated and very adventurous foray into progressive rock with some pop sensibilities.

The 10 tracks on this record are like a dangerous undertow pulling you every which way. The Citizen takes a walk through some heady lyrical terrain. Politics, autonomy, technology and dehumanization are all subjects that accompany a lush array of keyboards, drums and guitars. It's as if old Yes themes have been freshened up both musically and conceptually. From "The Partisan" and his political ranting to "Sophia" and the danger of her technology, The Citizen Listener is exposed to a rich pallet of sounds and ideas. Sherwood's narrative might seem like he's trying too hard to be unique, but the truth is progressive rock has covered a lot of ground and to come up with a decent concept album without recycling a portion of it is a feat in and of itself.

Billy Sherwood is also at home with all of the production on this record including all of the instrumentation. His guitar work on bass, acoustic and electric is definitely above average. I would have wagered that he had help in the studio but I would have been wrong. Other highlights from this album include "Via Hawking", and ode to Stephen Hawking and his ride along with Christopher Columbus, "Sailing The Seas".

In summary this is an album for hardcore progressive rock fans. Casual fans may not be patient enough to really dig into some of these songs. But the more you dig, the more treasure the Citizen finds.

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